Are you seeing less of your kids these days? According to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation that was reported in The New York Times this morning in If Your Kids Are Awake, They’re Probably Online, the average young American spends practically every waking minute — except for the time in school — using a smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device.
According to the study, “With technology allowing nearly 24-hour media access, the amount of time young people spend with entertainment media has risen dramatically, especially among minority youth. Today, 8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week). And because they spend so much of that time ‘media multitasking’ (using more than one medium at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes (10:45) worth of media content into those 7½ hours.”
There also appears to be a social effect at work: as the number of children using mobile devices increases, the amount of time they spend using them increases as well.
“Dr. Michael Rich, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Boston who directs the Center on Media and Child Health, said that with media use so ubiquitous, it was time to stop arguing over whether it was good or bad and accept it as part of children’s environment, “like the air they breathe, the water they drink and the food they eat.”
As I’ve long suggested, this is causing a new kind of generation gap larger than the one boomers like me faced with our parents. If you’re an educator or media producer the implications and the impact on your audience are equally enormous. For more, read the Times article or download the full report here (pdf).